Ha­mas and ousted Fatah leader unite against Ab­bas

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - MEL FRYKBERG

PALES­TINIAN Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas’s plan to iso­late his po­lit­i­cal ri­vals Ha­mas in the Gaza Strip ap­pears to be back­fir­ing, with his erst­while com­peti­tor for con­trol of the West Bank, ousted Fatah leader Muham­mad Dahlan, form­ing an al­liance with Ha­mas against Ab­bas.

On Mon­day, Is­rael be­gan re­duc­ing elec­tric­ity sup­plies to the be­sieged Gaza Strip to only three hours a day in agree­ment with Ab­bas who said the Fatah-led Pales­tinian Author­ity (PA) would no longer foot the en­tire bill for Gaza’s elec­tric­ity sup­plies which have been par­tially funded by taxes Is­rael col­lects on be­half of the PA.

Fol­low­ing these, and other puni­tive mea­sures by Ab­bas, Ha­mas polit­buro deputy chair­man in Gaza, Khalil Al Hayya, called on Sun­day for the es­tab­lish­ment of a “na­tional res­cue front” to chal­lenge the PA, con­firm­ing the Is­lamist move­ment’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with Dahlan, the Pales­tinian news agency Ma’an re­ported.

Elected in Fe­bru­ary, Al Hayya slammed the PA for its re­cent de­ci­sion to re­quest that Is­rael re­duce its sup­ply of elec­tric­ity to the Gaza Strip, de­spite warn­ings by hu­man rights or­gan­i­sa­tions about the dis­as­trous ef­fect this would have on the coastal ter­ri­tory’s two mil­lion in­hab­i­tants.

“We won’t stand idly by as these prac­tices lead to de­pri­va­tion of medicine.

“This pol­icy unites us all in Gaza and con­sol­i­dates our be­lief that our plight is be­ing hi­jacked by Ab­bas,” said Al Hayya.

Gaza is al­ready un­der a se­vere Is­raeli and Egyp­tian block­ade that has lim­ited im­ports of fuel and the sup­ply of elec­tric­ity, se­ri­ously di­min­ish­ing the abil­ity of the strip’s hos­pi­tals and sew­er­age treat­ment plants to func­tion.

How­ever, this new al­liance, on the tenth an­niver­sary of the mil­i­tary coup in Gaza which saw Ha­mas over­throw a joint PA-Ha­mas unity gov­ern­ment, shows Pales­tinian pol­i­tics do­ing a 180 de­gree shift, si­mul­ta­ne­ously em­pha­sis­ing the adage that “the en­emy of my en­emy is my friend”.

Ha­mas’s mil­i­tary coup in 2007 was re­ported to be an at­tempt to head off a coup against Ha­mas by Dahlan, a promi­nent Fatah leader in Gaza, with Is­raeli and Amer­i­can back­ing. Hav­ing failed, Dahlan even­tu­ally re­turned to the Is­raeli-oc­cu­pied West Bank, nom­i­nally ruled by the PA, and at­tempted to un­der­mine Ab­bas’s rule while busy­ing him­self build­ing up his own sup­port base.

How­ever, Dahlan was ousted from the Fatah move­ment in 2011 fol­low­ing charges of cor­rup­tion and crime by Fatah’s Central Com­mit­tee, a de­ci­sion sup­ported by Ab­bas who is also Fatah’s chair­man.

Be­fore he could be tried, the for­mer Fatah strong­man fled to Jor­dan af­ter is­su­ing a scathing at­tack on Ab­bas. Pales­tinian se­cu­rity forces sub­se­quently raided his house in the de-facto Pales­tinian cap­i­tal of Ra­mal­lah in the central West Bank and ar­rested his guards.

Dur­ing his time in ex­ile Dahlan con­tin­ued to work to­wards re­plac­ing Ab­bas, cul­mi­nat­ing in se­ri­ous clashes be­tween PA se­cu­rity forces and his armed fol­low­ers in a num­ber of West Bank refugee camps.

Now, not only does Dahlan have the sup­port of Ha­mas, but re­port­edly the Egyp­tians too.

The Is­raeli daily Haaretz re­ported sev­eral days ago that Ha­mas of­fi­cials who met Egypt’s in­tel­li­gence chief had reached agree­ments in­clud­ing the ap­point­ment of Dahlan to run a com­mit­tee in charge of Gaza af­fairs.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

Pales­tini­ans sit out­side their houses as they es­cape from the heat dur­ing a power cut at Shati refugee camp in Gaza City on Mon­day.

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